World Learning to Receive Grant from the Aspen Institute Stevens Initiative to Administer Virtual Exchange Between High School Youth in Iraq and the United States

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Kathryn Schoenberger in Washington, DC, 202 464-6979

WASHINGTON (April 4, 2016)

The Aspen Institute Stevens Initiative today announced the award of a two-year grant to World Learning, one of 10 new projects funded through a national competition to use virtual exchange to increase cross-cultural understanding and equip young people to participate in a global economy.

World Learning’s is among the first wave of virtual exchange programs to be funded by the Stevens Initiative, a public-private partnership designed to increase people-to-people exchange between youth in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa as a lasting tribute to the legacy of Ambassador Chris Stevens. 

Virtual exchange uses technology for sustained, people-to-people education programs. The Initiative aims to increase mutual understanding between youth in middle school through post-secondary and equip a generation of globally minded youth with the skills they need to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world.

The announcement marks the first major step in the Stevens Initiative’s plan to scale up people-to-people exchanges between youth in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa. The Initiative provided $5 million to support online programs that will bring more than 20,000 young people together to engage in cross-cultural learning experiences. The programs reach 17 countries in the Middle East and North Africa and 25 American states. 

Under the Stevens Initiative, World Learning will implement the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program – Virtual (IYLEP Virtual). With this program, World Learning will build upon its implementation of the U.S. Department of State Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP) by using innovative technology platforms to conduct an exchange and leadership development training entirely online for a diverse cadre of future Iraqi and American youth leaders. IYLEP Virtual's curriculum will emphasize global leadership, education, and engagement. 

Other examples of the work to be undertaken include:  

  • Arabic, English and Kurdish language exchange programs between students in California and their peers in Morocco, Iraq and Saudi Arabia;
  • Storytelling through virtual reality for middle and high school students in Kentucky, New York, and Jordan, including Syrian refugees;
  • A collaborative anthropological project between high school students in Morocco and Chicago;
  • Global leadership activities for students in Iraq, Illinois, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • An online program exploring how the media portrays people in the United Arab Emirates and various states across the United States. 

Most programs will launch in Spring 2016 and continue for a period of two years. 

“This is the beginning of a global classroom. World Learning will be a pioneer in an exciting and dynamic field,” said Elliot Gerson, Executive Vice President of the Aspen Institute. “Our vision is to spark conversations between young people in countries around the world—to exchange ideas and information and to work together on addressing important issues. We look forward to working with World Learning to achieve this vision.” 

The first Stevens Initiative award competition was open to U.S. non-profit organizations. In addition to holding future rounds of the award competition, the Initiative will share best practices and support research to address which methods have a measurable impact and have the potential to reach all young people as the field grows.

“World Learning is proud to work with the Aspen Institute on this important and innovative project,” said Carol Jenkins, President for Global Development and Exchange at World Learning. “We have implemented the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for many years and look forward to applying that experience to use new technology to build and strengthen relationships between American and Iraqi youth.” 

The other Stevens Initiative grantees announced today are:

  • Chicago Sister Cities International
  • Eurasia Foundation
  • Global Nomads Group
  • IEARN 
  • National Democratic Institute
  • Soliya
  • State University of New York – Center for Collaborative Online International Learning
  • University of California Berkeley
  • Wofford College
  • World Learning

World Learning is a nonprofit organization that works globally to enhance the capacity and commitment of individuals, institutions, and communities to create a more sustainable, peaceful, and just world. The organization empowers people and strengthens institutions through education, development, and exchange programs.

The Stevens Initiative is a public-private partnership designed to increase people-to-people exchange between youth in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa as a lasting tribute to the legacy of Ambassador Chris Stevens. By fostering structured online engagements between young people in secondary through post-secondary education, the Stevens Initiative aims to increase mutual understanding and equip a generation of globally minded youth with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.

Housed at the Aspen Institute, the Stevens Initiative is a collaboration between the family of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Department of State, the Bezos Family Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the governments of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Algeria, and Morocco, and Microsoft, Mozilla, Twitter, and GoPro. Visit the Stevens Initiative at www.stevensinitiative.org.

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